The Most Sustainable Building? It's the One You Already Have

Raymond Doyle, WB Engineers+Consultants
Desmond Greene, WB Engineers+Consultants

New buildings are often in the news promoting their sustainable design. We're shifting the conversation from the sustainability of new buildings to the sustainability of existing buildings. You do not need a new R&D or manufacturing building to be sustainable. Our conversation will describe how to reposition existing buildings.

We'll tell the story of a recent project for a life sciences developer, where a detailed master plan and a phased approach enabled the client to achieve sustainability goals when they converted an existing warehouse to a new R&D space. We'll talk about how the code impacted this project from incentives to penalties.

From there, we'll describe different strategies to reduce energy consumption and carbon impact. A second project story, about a major pharmaceutical company, will follow our team's process and challenges in transforming one of the client's existing buildings from one that consumed a lot of energy to one that helps the company achieve their ESG goals. In the process, we were also able to reduce the building's operating costs. The secret to this success? Retro-commissioning. For both of our stories, what led our clients to meet their sustainability goals was making good decisions for the right reasons.

Learning Objectives

  • Have a better understanding of how to reposition an existing R&D or manufacturing building to be sustainable;
  • Learn what to consider in a developing a master plan for converting an existing building to R&D or manufacturing, especially how the code impacts;
  • Understand strategies to reduce energy consumption and carbon impact for life sciences facilities and meet ESG goals; and
  • Understand the importance of retro-commissioning in achieving sustainability goals.


As national life sciences market lead, Ray advises on WB's projects and manages corporate life sciences accounts. He contributed to The NIH's Design Requirements Manual, which established policy, design requirements, and standards for life science design projects. His experience includes more the one million SF of FDA lab spaces.

Desmond's background is in MEP engineering, energy and sustainability design, and carbon emissions. He is a licensed professional engineer, certified energy manager with AEE, and a certified Low Carbon Consultant with CIBSE. He focuses on helping clients reduce their carbon emissions, improve ESG scores, and comply with new codes and regulations.


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